Going Forward

I admit my last post was a bit depressing and melodramatic (which I excelled at by the way when I was drinking). I partially blame that on the post-surgery exhaustion I was experiencing, but in all truth, I was/am at a crossroads with this blog.

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve been obsessing over it (okay, maybe a little), but I’ve definitely been thinking and praying for guidance. I guess it comes down to this: my life is not very exciting (which I’m okay with) and, honestly, I get tired of talking about me all the time. Sure, there are things that continue to come up in my sobriety, but I feel like I’ve been putting myself in this little box – and now I’m outgrowing that box (which I think is a good thing).

So…long story short, I have some ideas of where I’d like to go. I’m not going to stop this blog because, in many ways, it’s become a part of me – like another appendage (kind of). No, as a matter of fact, I’m going to dive deeper. Not only do I want to share my story; I want to share others’ stories. And, not just those in recovery, but those who have been molded and shaped by their lived experiences.

We all have a story and I’m fascinated to learn how others have coped and overcame life’s unexpected circumstances. I’m still working on how all this is going to look, but I’m excited. And, in an effort to better promote my vision, I’ve created a Facebook page for my blog. Yes, I’ve taken the plunge, so if you’re interested in “liking” my page and following along you can find it at https://www.facebook.com/lifecorked. It’s a work in progress, like the rest of me.

Thanks for your support as I continue to map all this out! Grateful to be on this crazy ride together!

Oh, and by the way, on a totally different topic, it still baffles me that my most viewed post on a typical day is my healthy chicken enchilada recipe. And, then the second most viewed post is my “about” page because I’m sure people are thinking, “Why the heck is a recovering alcoholic writing about chicken enchiladas?” Well, leave it up to me to mix the two together! No one alcoholic is alike, right?!

 

Cake, God and 18 Months Sober

18 Months

I had every intention of writing this post yesterday (which was my 18 month sobriety birthday), but it was a LONG day and after a dinner out with Tyler and a piece of my favorite cake, I was out like a light!

18 months. 18 freakin’ months without a single drink. Wow. In many ways it seems like yesterday and in others it seems like an eternity since I took that last sip of beer at our local Applebee’s. I had already had one relapse and despite the anguish and hurt it had caused me and my family, I still wasn’t ready to surrender. It was a hot summer day in August and I had just picked the kids up from going to the state fair with my in laws. There was tons of traffic and it was getting close to dinner time, so I decided to take a detour and get an early dinner at a nearby Applebee’s. I knew before I stepped in the door, that I was going to have a drink. Just one. No one would know. My kids were still too young to realize what was going on. It’s just a beer. So, as we ordered dinner I quickly looked around me (to see if there was anyone I knew) and ordered a Blue Moon beer. Perfect for a hot day. Our waitress returned with my beer and I looked around again before taking a big gulp.

As I took another sip and looked around, I felt embarrassed and guilty. As I sat there with my 3-year-old little boy and 5-year-old little girl, I suddenly wondered what the hell I was doing. Was it worth it? The shame, guilt and embarrassment? The lies? And, that was it. Right then and there with a beer at an Applebee’s, I decided I was done. It was the most uneventful drinking experience I had ever had, but I knew it was over. That part of my life was over and I was finally – FINALLY – ready to move on.

I drive by that Applebee’s multiple times throughout the week and it always sits there as a reminder of that day and that life-altering decision. That day, without fully knowing it at the time, I turned it all over to God. Without fully knowing or understanding, and without the exact words, I mentally said, “I can’t do this anymore. I need help.” I was tired of fighting; tired of hiding; I was just plain tired. And, I knew that I couldn’t do it by myself anymore. And, in my desperation and exhaustion, I decided the only thing I had left was God. I had been hiding from Him and pushing Him away for so long; I honestly didn’t know if He would still be there. But, He was. He was just waiting; patiently waiting for me to say, “Okay, God. I give up. If you’re so great, show me what you can do with this mess I’ve created.” And, yes, I gave Him a little attitude because, to be honest, I was still skeptical.

As I sit here today, there is no doubt that He was there; listening to that broken, stubborn and frightened woman. He took that mess and turned it into a walking, talking miracle. And, yes, I consider where I am, who I am and what I am a true miracle. I don’t pretend to know who God is, what God is and where God is. But, I know for me He is more real than anything in this entire world. He is the only reason I am who I am today and I will forever praise His name without shame, embarrassment or fear of what others might think. I lived in fear and embarrassment for a long time; afraid of what others thought about me. But, no more. I stand strong and proud of the woman I am today. I have done many things in my life that I’m ashamed of, but those things don’t define me. I am defined by who I choose to be today.

Today, I am so grateful for this journey. I am grateful for that moment in Applebee’s; for my sweet, beautiful children who sit next to me as I write this; for my husband who looks at me now with more love and admiration than ever before; for my family and friends who have loved me and shown me the true meaning of forgiveness and grace; for those who have guided me down the path of sobriety; for the humility I have experienced along the way; and thank God for the Old Fashioned cake at Gerry Frank’s Konditorei for getting me through those first few months of sobriety when all I wanted was chocolate cake!

Today is a good day. A very good day to be alive and sober.

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Almond Flour Cookies

It’s Day 4 and I’m saving some of the best for last! I discovered these cookies while we were stuck at home during the recent snowstorm and they were a HUGE hit. In fact, my husband said he thinks they’re some of the BEST cookies I’ve ever made, which is a huge compliment since he’s a “cookie guy.”

Like I said, we’ve been experimenting with gluten free and Paleo recipes and I was determined to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe that used almond flour. I took my chances and did a Google search and just happened to come across these on Meaningful Eats, a blog that focuses on gluten free foods. The original recipe doesn’t call for coconut, but I LOVE coconut – the taste, smell – you name it, so I added some unsweetened flakes and was thrilled with how they turned out! But, if you don’t like coconut, you don’t have to use it. Instead, you could add chopped nuts or you could add both!

Okay, so a few tips before you get started. To simplify things, I melt the butter and coconut oil together in the microwave for about a minute. This is especially helpful if your butter is coming straight out of the fridge. The batter seems a bit softer than “normal” cookie dough, but don’t worry, it’s fine. Also, to get the nice little round cookies, I like to use a medium-size melon baller (is that what they’re called?) or small ice cream scoop. And, because these cookies taste best the day of, I bake half a batch and then scoop the rest, freeze them on a cookie sheet and transfer them to a freezer bag. When you’re ready to bake them, just take them out and add a couple minutes to the bake time. I did this and they turned out perfect!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1¼ cups chocolate chips of choice
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
  • ⅔ cup toasted walnuts (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or I used my silpat mat).
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter, coconut oil and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs, mixing until incorporated.
  • Mix in the baking soda and salt. Add the almond flour, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the chocolate chips and coconut and/or walnuts with a wooden spoon.
  • Form the dough into tablespoon rounds and place on the lined baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until golden brown around edges. (I typically bake them for 11 minutes, but it will depend on your oven).

Enjoy! And, don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for a celebration!

Tasty Taco Chili

Taco Chili

Welcome to Day 3 of my “healthy eating-but tastes good” week of recipes!

Maybe I’m preaching to the choir and you already have your favorite chili recipe, but I wanted to share mine because it’s SO easy and it’s my go-to quick, tasty and healthy weeknight meal. In fact, my five-year-old son who is somewhat picky (at least pickier than the rest of us), loves this chili and regularly requests it for dinner!

The ingredients are pretty straightforward, however, you can add or subtract ingredients as you like. I will often add frozen corn or diced garlic, or you can just make it according to the following directions!

IMG_3059 (2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean hamburger meat
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cans red kidney beans
  • 1 package taco seasoning (I like to use mild and reduced sodium)

* I try to use grass fed beef and organic ingredients whenever possible.

Directions:

  • Cook hamburger meat and diced onion in pan on medium-high heat until hamburger is brown.
  • Add 1 cup water and taco seasoning to hamburger and onion mix and sauté for a few minutes on low.
  • Add remaining ingredients (do not rinse beans).
  • Stir, cover and let simmer on low heat for 30 min. (you can serve right away if you’re in a hurry, but if I have time I like to let it simmer).
  • Serve in bowls and top with grated cheese, light sour cream and diced avocado.

My daughter loves cornbread, and, to be honest, most of the time I’m too lazy to make it from scratch, so sometimes a package of Marie Callender’s cornbread does the trick! I’ve also served it with corn tortilla chips, which the kids love!

This recipe typically serves our family of four with a container of leftovers for lunch!

Experiment, have fun and enjoy!

 

Paleo Waffles – That Taste Good!

Paleo Waffles

Today, marks Day 2 of my “healthy eating-but tastes good” series!

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE waffles – and so does everyone else in my family! Both my husband and I grew up with waffles and our kids have now become waffle converts. I’m not a big pancake person (unless they’re my dad’s which are made in a cast iron pan with lots of butter), but I’ll take a good waffle any day (usually on the weekend with a big ol’ cup of coffee!).

And, just like the Paleo granola I featured in my last post, my husband’s aunt introduced me to these seriously scrumptious Paleo waffles. Originally, a Paleo pancake recipe from The Paleo Mom, she tried them in a waffle iron and they turned out great! The key ingredient in these are plantains, which sounded pretty strange at first, but provide the perfect texture for the waffles. Not every grocery store sells plantains, but I did find them at my local WinCo. Typically, any large grocery store will have them so just call around before you go shopping.

I like to put fruit on anything I can, and these are especially good with fresh or frozen berries. Costco sells a wonderful organic frozen berry mix that I love. Just put some in a bowl and defrost them in the microwave and they’re ready to go. Top it off with a little maple syrup and a side of bacon – and you might become a Paleo waffle convert too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green plantains (about 2 cups pureed)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt (a generous pinch)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • Coconut cooking spray

Directions:

  • Peel plantains (I find it easier to quarter them before I peel them) and place pieces in your blender or food processor.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender or food processor and process until it forms a smooth batter (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Spray waffle iron with cooking spray and poor batter into waffle iron.
  • Let cook 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Repeat with remaining batter, adding a little more cooking spray as needed.

One batch of batter will typically serve a family of four, however, if you have big eaters or want leftovers (they’re great heated up in the toaster), I would suggest making two batches.

Enjoy!

AMAZING Paleo Granola

IMG_3073

A few things before I tell you about this amazing recipe! First, considering that this isn’t a “foodie” blog, I find it funny that my most consistently viewed post continues to be my “Easy Peasy” Chicken Enchilada recipe thanks to Bembu – I’m forever grateful! Second, I LOVE food – all kinds, so I’m thrilled to have an outlet to share that love; and lastly, I regained my love for food and cooking when I got sober, which is truly a gift in my mind. While I don’t focus on writing about food, it’s always on my mind and once in awhile I’ll come across some recipes that I MUST share!

So, this week I’ve decided to change things up and do a little “healthy eating, but still tastes good” themed week of posts. And, on Friday I’ll end the week with a not-so-healthy look at my very favorite treat in honor of a special day. So, just roll with it and hopefully you’ll get something out of it along the way!

Okay, so onward to Paleo Granola. Please, please don’t let the name scare you away! I know the whole “Paleo” thing has been all the rage lately, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical at first. However, a number of family members and friends have had GREAT success with the Paleo lifestyle – and, really, that’s what it is – a lifestyle. While I admire those who can do strictly Paleo, I’m afraid that I enjoy a few non-Paleo items just too much. And, really, I already gave up alcohol, so in many ways I feel like I’ve done my “duty” in the area of giving up things for health-related reasons – at least, that’s the excuse I’m using for now! But, that still doesn’t mean I won’t incorporate some yummy recipes into our daily living.

Recently, we were visiting my husband’s aunt and uncle, who practice a Paleo lifestyle, and his aunt had made this wonderful – seriously-out-of-this-world granola. Disclaimer: I could live off of Greek yogurt, fruit and granola. I’m pretty sure I’ve had every variety of granola out there (hello, my parents were hippies!) and this was the BEST. Turns out it’s Paleo and comes from Stacy at Paleo Parents (oh, and my kids love it!). I prefer mine over plain Greek yogurt with a little honey and fruit, but you can eat it however you like – right out of the container it great too!

IMG_3043

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 C walnuts, finely chopped or pureed
  • 1 C macadamia nuts, finely chopped or pureed
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 1/2 C fresh dates, diced
  • 1/2 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Combine almonds, coconut flakes, nuts and fruit in a bowl
  • Whisk together oil, honey and cinnamon
  • Pour oil-honey mixture over nuts and fruit and mix, mix well (hands work best)
  • Spread onto a single layer on lightly oiled baking sheet
  • Bake for one hour at 275 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning (this is important or it will have a burnt taste to it)

Enjoy!